The Commonwealth Potato Collection (CPC), an invaluable repository of potato germplasm held in trust by the James Hutton Institute with support from the Scottish Government, is set to make the first deposit of plant genetic material by a UK institution into the Global Seed Vault. The deposit is built in accordance with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Situated inside a sandstone mountain on the island of Spitsbergen, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, the Global Seed Vault at Svalbard is the world’s largest collection of crop diversity. It constitutes a fail-safe seed storage facility built to stand the test of time and protect invaluable genetic resources from possible future catastrophic global environmental events.
The CPC was established in the late 1930s by British botanists and collectors, and the James Hutton Institute is responsible for its curation and maintenance. The CPC deposit will constitute the first UK deposit in the Global Seed Vault as confirmed by the Crop Trust, who manages the Svalbard facility.
The purpose of the CPC is to safeguard the genetic diversity of lodged material and make it available to researchers and breeders.
Professor Colin Campbell, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, commented: “The efforts of early pioneers and subsequent plant scientists in establishing and maintaining the CPC have become even more precious, given that new predictions estimate a global population of 11 billion by 2100, and the importance of potato as a key staple food crop in many regions of the world. By consigning CPC genetic material into the Global Seed Vault, we hope to preserve these valuable genetic resources for generations to come.”
Dr. Glenn Bryan, research group leader at the Institute’s Cell and Molecular Sciences, said: “The CPC forms a vital component of our research and breeding at the Hutton. It is a potent source of genes against new disease threats as well as against the effects of climate change.”